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Kuka building robot assembly plant in Shanghai

October 30, 2012

SHANGHAI (Oct. 30, 2:20 p.m. ET) — German robot manufacturer Kuka AG is looking to Asia for its future. The 1.5 billion euro ($1.9 billion) company laid the foundation for a new assembly plant in Shanghai earlier this month with plans to start production in late 2013.

The plant will employ 350 in manufacturing, marketing and distribution. The 20,000-square-meter plant will assemble robots for automotive clients as well as general industry use.

Kuka China is one of Augsburg, Germany-based Kuka’s largest subsidiaries, with four other distribution and service bases aside from its Shanghai headquarters. The company has operated in China for 12 years.

CEO Till Reuter said in a news release that the new plant “enhances its very good market position in Asia” and positions the company to benefit from the growing market for automation products in emerging markets.

By next year, the plant should start churning out robots, with a focus on producing the KR Quantec robot series and the KR C4 series universal controllers. The plant should be able to assemble 3,000 robots and controllers in its first year and plans to expand to 5,000 a year by 2015.

The plant opening is a sign that robot manufacturers are bullish on their prospects, especially in China.

An April 2012 report from the Frankfurt, Germany-based International Federation of Robots said the global robot industry grew 30 percent in 2011, with Asia being the largest growth market and China taking a 51 percent leap from the year before.